A Non-Native Animal That Moves Into A New Place Trout Fishing – The Best Places To Fish in the High Sierra For A California Golden Icon

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Trout Fishing – The Best Places To Fish in the High Sierra For A California Golden Icon

High Sierra Golden Trout Fishing

One of the main factors in determining my backpacking destinations centers around Golden Trout fishing. The California Golden Trout was designated as the official state fish of California in 1947. Fish raised from the Golden Trout expanded the range of the Golden Trout in many high elevation waters in the Sierra Nevadas and also in other states. Their native populations are now strained by the introduction of invasive species and habitat destruction, and their introduction into high-elevation lakes has strained other native plant and animal species.

The coloration of the California golden trout is extremely bright. The belly and cheeks are bright red to bright orange, the underparts are bright gold, the central lateral band is red orange, and the back is deep olive green.

The early settlers of the Sierra were as enamored of the golden trout as modern anglers are today. Beauty like this, they reasoned, should not be confined to such a small area.

Kernville resident Ardis Walker in the early 1900s wrote;

“Many of the pioneer visitors to the golden trout waters responded with a desire that was almost compulsive; they shared a common missionary desire to spread the beauty and golden life of this native habitat to the barren waters of the higher and lower lakes. east and north and streams.”

It was common practice for settlers to carry golden trout in buckets of water on the backs of mules for up to a week at a time, collecting thousands of fish along the way. Some kept meticulous notes; others at all.

Studies of the impact on vegetation and the yellow-legged frog due to the stocking of trout in fishless High Sierra lakes led to the end of this activity and now golden trout are found only in high elevation (10,000+ feet) lakes. They are no longer stocked and are only found in lakes where they are independent.

To reverse the damage done to the yellow-legged frog and other non-native trout species the plant life has been removed with gill netting. The best fishing has historically been in lakes on or near the headwaters of the Kern and to the south. These include South American Lake, Crabtree Lakes, Wright Lakes, Wallace Lake and Lake Wales among others. Recent trips have found the fishing not so good on some of these lakes, but still very strong on others.

I release most of the fish I catch because it is illegal to have campfires at the high altitudes where the fish are found and cooking them on the stove is challenging. If you like the taste of fresh trout it is worth it. On a recent trip I spoke with a veteran backpacker and angler who said they poach them. This is another option I haven’t tried.

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